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Mark Clark

Mark Clark

Mark Clark is the public information officer for a law enforcement agency in the southwest. He is also a photographer and contributor to POLICE Magazine.
Patrol

What to Do If You Are Working with a Bad Cop

Working with a bad cop is one of the most unpleasant possibilities to contemplate. For some cops, it is their reality.

March 07, 2008  |  by - Also by this author

During my career, I worked with and around cops that turned out to be criminals. The pedophile reserve. The Temple Station trio that preyed upon unsuspecting motorists, pilfering credit cards to pay for their play toys. The seemingly too cool cop with a penchant for moving evidence and falsifying reports. The deputy who ran names of citizens on behalf of the mob; another who actually did hits on their behalf.

Hell, my best friend from the Academy turned out to be a serial rapist.

Thankfully, these exceptions were just that, and constituted a negligible percentage of the Sheriff's Department's otherwise dedicated work force. Most of the time, too, the revelations of their sociopathology were genuinely surprising.

For others, there was no shortage of red flags. Sometimes, the deputies were on the administrative radar well before their inevitable arrests. One was known for retaining the driver's licenses of female motorists, only to make after-hours visitations to their homes, ostensibly to return the cards.

In an effort to rehabilitate this deputy's career, the Department had been lax on the discipline front. In exchange for its amnesties, he'd pushed the envelope, eventually getting arrested for an on-duty rape and serving the better part of a 14-year prison sentence. Would more severe punishment early on have curtailed his predatory behavior? Maybe, maybe not. Would it have saved the Department the ensuing embarrassment of having a highly publicized prosecution of a deputy sheriff? Quite possibly.

Right now, there are any number of bad cops flying under the radar. People with badges who are exploiting their positions and the people they come in contact with.

And somewhere I suspect is a fellow cop who is burdened with the knowledge.

What to do?

It's almost a rhetorical question. Procedurally, we know what to do. But are we psychologically prepared to do it?

I think it goes against the grain for most cops to dime off another. Whether out of a sense of loyalty or fear, some within can become curiously mute in diming off their own—ironic given the horror our profession expresses at the "Stop the Snitchin'" campaigns.

Not that there aren't some legitimate reasons to be apprehensive. For however romantic the notions of doing the right thing can be, the fact is that history has seen the Roman Messenger killed, the whistle blower silenced, Billy Mitchell court marshaled, and Serpico targeted.

Add this to the inherently distasteful thought of screwing over another cop - internal affairs will have a percentage of people bucking for promotion on someone else's badge - and it's small wonder that we don't want to play watchmen on one another.

But consider this: There are those working I.A. not because they necessarily want to, or enjoy the idea of getting cops fired, but genuinely feel in their hearts that they have a mission to uphold the integrity of the badge, and recognize that enforcing the law means sometimes doing so in house, as well.

It may not be needed for all of us. But whatever else, the reality of I.A. is that it helps keep the fence straddlers in check and holds the deserving accountable.

So while I am not suggesting that you go looking for dirt on your partners, I am suggesting that if you're working with someone who is breaking the very law he is sworn to uphold, you have an obligation to do something about it.

I'm not talking slippery slope stuff—the acceptance of a free coffee, or badging one's way into a venue. I'm talking when they're well off the slope and in a damned freefall.

That's when it's not something that can wait until a supervisor finds out by happenstance, or a victim of their actions finally reaches the right person. That's when it's something that requires you to bring it to another's attention: a supervisor, their captain, internal affairs, or even an outside agency if the problem is seemingly pandemic.

At the very least, ask to work with a new partner, or be transferred to another shift. Anything that'll put distance between you and the offending officer so that you don't get implicated in an act of officer-involved stupidity.

I trust, indeed pray that a vast majority of cops reading this will think, What the hell is he talking about? and truly have no clue what I'm talking about.

For the others, I hope they'll do the right thing, and not only have the peace of mind of knowing that they have done so, but support from their organizations for their having done so.

Some columns are easier to write than others. This ain't one of them.

However anal-retentive, cliqueish, arrogant, and aggravating they can sometimes be, cops have always been prominent among my heroes.

But the fact remains that few bad cops have been busted for singular transgressions; often, someone knew where things were headed long before they got there. When I factor in the continually dropping bar of hiring standards throughout the country, I don't think I'm being unduly pessimistic or apprehensive when I consider what the future might hold.

And that scares me.

For having been already hamstrung with the legacies of Rodney King, Amadou Diallo, Tyisha Miller, and other controversial incidents, this generation of cops cannot afford another Abner Louima incident, anymore Rafael Perez's.

As Serpico illustrated, crooked cops gain a seemingly pandemic toe-hold on public consciousness. They provide fodder for our critics, give pause to our supporters, and inspire insipid songs like Cop Killer.

And in doing so, they make the job of law enforcement even more dangerous for the good cops.


Comments (20)

Displaying 1 - 20 of 20

irishone @ 3/7/2008 3:38 PM

I know of some of those people you speak about in your article. One of them was so bad, we do everything we can to keep the clown from becoming a sergeant. I think on of the big problems with IA sometimes, is that really bad cops seem to get away with murder and they are aided and abetted in this murder by OIR. I think there is an appearance of this so-called independent entity to be in bed with the OIR. I also object to one LT in the criminal IA to have so much control over what cases make it to the DA for prosecution. Transparency in LASD? Think not, there is as much coverup as there was 20 years ago.

spoc711 @ 3/8/2008 11:11 AM

Great topic ...not only do some fly under the rader others abuse their postion as police officers and believe in entitlments....some falsify injuries and collect IOD and are assigned lite duties and skate others don't have a clear understanding of what is expected of us in our profession.....I believe we have lost our Para-Military structure and attitude towards right and wrong...we have become the me generation..no one is held accountable for bad conduct. Excuse are made for those that violate our basic pricipales of "Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching" in my place everyone is affraid to challenge and hold those violators accountable, if you do you become an "Island" as I have become, too many cops look the other way if it for their benefit, .......Most cops do the right thing, but far to many continue to give us a black eye or just fly under the radar.....

ROB ROY @ 3/8/2008 12:36 PM

I'VE been in law enforcement and correction's for 23 year's and have seen my fair share of this. One of my SGT.'S turned out to be a serial; killer you all may have heard of him (the flower shop murderer). I don't know about the rest of you but I'am not going to let a turd with a badge drag me down with him/her. I'll drop them in the grease in a heart beat. We get enough bad press as it is so we need to weed this kind of scum out of our community. spoc711 has got it right to many of us have to take up the slac of all the non hacker's so don't let them make them do the right thing or get out. YOU ALL BE CAREFULL

carlsonee @ 3/8/2008 1:18 PM

I have been in law enforcement for a short time! I am still in the FTO program, I had a great FTO for two months who was great and taught me so much, now I have an FTO who is a "TURD!" He is a disgrace to law enformcement, not as bad as a seriel killer, but just as dangerous. He escalates every situation just so he can get his fight on. We arrested a subject the other night, he escalated the situation while in the patrol car on the way to the station by calling the arrestee every name under the sun. The arrestee was great with me, no problems. Then finally, "FTO" got to fight him in the cell, which is what he was waiting for. On another call he escalated another situation which was totally calm. I finished work early because I could not stand to be with this loser any longer. I came out of the station to go home and he was asleep in the patrol car! Nice. He has taught me nothing, other than how to use your cell phone while on duty. He is also a lying sack of you know what, and makes up excuses for not going back out into the field, usually blaming me, saying I had a report to write, when the report had been done three hours before! I have kept quiet, but cannot stay quiet for too long. He is an idiot! Any advice? Oh, by the way, he is under investigation right now for excessive force and other situations. I am keeping a log on this so-called FTO for my benefit. Any advice?

irishone @ 3/8/2008 2:28 PM

Although I am no longer in law enforcement, I am married to a cop. I support wholeheartedly the good cops who want to do the right thing, I will do everything in my power to put the bad ones where they belong..... too many scumbag psycho-sociopaths have made their way into law enforcement because of affirmative action and lowered hiring standards.

I still go to school taking college classes to stay up to date with laws and how to investigate things. It has come in handy when I put together a "murder book" on a deputy who falsely arrested a friend and used deadly force on him. He then his trainee falsify their arrest report to justify the bogus arrest. This scumbag was removed from patrol, the trainee forced to resign in lieu of termination and the captain of the station transferred. When this FTO tested for sergeant we found out about it and emailed the board of supervisors and other entities to make sure he did not get promoted. Last I heard he was working as a detective in the jails, the inmates don't stand a chance with the great fabricator!

I hope the good guys will continue to drop dimes on the scumbags who tarnish the badge.
Just read LAOIR reports and you will see the stuff these guys do....disgraceful, just disgraceful!

David Moore S-55 @ 3/8/2008 6:24 PM

This one hits hard, did not sleep well after reading - the author is absolutely right about how difficult it is to write about this subject, and there are high personal costs sometimes. Supervisors know the Chief or Sheriff are going to come to you and ask how did this happen? Where were you in all this? As a long time member of American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers (ASLET), now defunct, this is a perfect example where the actions of the few affect the many. Do not allow the team to be invaded by; The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, (Absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, inattention to results). Reference: ©2002 Patrick Lencioni, Table Group, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”

Now, because of what you do, your standards must be higher than those that prevail in society at large. Honor, integrity, trust, respect and support; are like an arroyo, once washed away it never regains its original strength or structure. Much like the scars of a really bad burn, they never go away, just dim some over time! “It is all about the Integrity of the Badge and Team who are left behind to deal with the fallout!!”

Thanks. Dave...

irishone @ 3/8/2008 8:50 PM

Good idea keeping a log on this clown's activities. Do you have a way to report the stuff you have seen without jeopardizing your job or getting labeled a snitch? Your IA just may be looking for enough evidence to get rid of this idiot, maybe what you have will be the icing on the cake, the push out the door. Paper trails are great!

ShatteredShield @ 3/9/2008 2:32 AM

Supporting the criminal actions of our peers buy not reporting their actions makes and creates more of the same. Seems like the thin blue line grows wider each and everyday. I'm retired "injuried in the line", but I keep up with law enforcement actitives through my brothers/sisters still on active duty as well as through many fine LE publications. Did we cover each others backs in my time, "yes, but there was a limit and that blue line was much more defined". Either way as said by another officer, this is a very difficult subject to discuss. But that in it's self show how far things have come or should I say gone.

ROB ROY @ 3/9/2008 11:13 AM

carlsonee the only thing I can tell you is to go talk to your EEO rep. He/she will keep your conversation confidential. Other than that keep a log of all your time with this turd so he doesnt drag you down with him when he finally get's called on his action's. Be carefull and cover your butt!!!!

Sectionone @ 3/9/2008 2:36 PM

The "thin blue line" is a practice which was designed to protect the bad cops. I have experienced it first hand myself. As the arresting officer, I testified at a sex assault trial that the information the victim gave was falsified. Problem was, I was not the investigating officer and my name was not on the line when it came to prosecuting the suspect. I warned everyone that the victim was lying, having dealt with her on another matter, but everyone was convinced the evidence didn't lie. After investigating my information, the suspect was released, having spent 8 months dead time. Immediately afterward, the department responsible fabricated evidence to destroy my credibility. I have been out of the law enforcement side now for 10 years and I have watched this department as a whole protect other bad cops. Some of the more famous incidents were the Stanley Cup Riots, the Stanley Park Incident, and a multitude of others. As long as law enforcement continues the "thin blue line" mentality, nothing matters. Don't fool yourself.

carlsonee @ 3/9/2008 3:53 PM

Thanks for the advice, I don't think I am entitled to EEO Rep, still on Probationary status which is for one year in this department. I am going to talk to the SGT. I can request a different FTO, I am not afraid of repercussions, this officer is not highly regarded. I have a strange feeling they put me with him as Irishone said "to flush him out." I am going to see what happens within the next couple of nights. I am extremely frustrated and beginning to doubt whether I made the right decison in coming back (I resigned last year and then came back.)
To all be safe and thanks for the help.

irishone @ 3/9/2008 7:07 PM

Carlsonee, stick with the department, don't let the ratbastards run you out of your job. I would request a new FTO because more than likely he is teaching recruits some very bad habits, covering up his misconduct until he gets caught. I would spill the beans on him, and let the shrapnel fall where it may....you need to be able to live with yourself.....

irishone @ 3/9/2008 7:19 PM

I have an opinion about the police brotherhood and the thin blue line....it is a fraud, it is a concept behind which cops betray each other to save their own necks, and screw over innocent people. The brotherhood is there for the big in the line of duty funerals, but where is it when medially disabled officers/deputies are forced to live in their cars?

I have a friend who worked for LASD for 13 years. He worked jail and transportion. He suffered repetive stress injuries to his elbows, shoulder and sustained a 50% disability to his back. He had to have 2 surguries to his elbows, which for all intents and purposes cost him the job position.

Workmens Comp requires that a person be reasonably accomodated in a new position. Would you know that working patrol was never an issue for him until they decided to get rid of him? He was now jobless, going through a divorce, nothing was going right...and he has been living in his car for the past 6 years. He gave LASD everything and they kicked him to the curb at the worst time of his life.

I tell people who are contemplating a law enforcement career to always remember one very important fact, you are nothing but a badge number, a warm body filling a position. When you are gone no one will who you are, or what you gave up. So, keep your families close, don't give them up for the job.

David Moore S-55 @ 3/10/2008 8:04 PM

Carlsonee - I admire your stance in this matter and you are heading down the right path - go with what is coming from inside!! I too have stood in the trench doing what's right it's always the right thing to do! There will be personal cost sometimes. Some have the don't admit you have a problem it does not exist mentality. Like the COPS series (Believe it was Dallas Fort Worth PD), - after a pursuit the offender hide under plastic pool with legs sticking out ..The Arresting Officer said I guess if he does not see us, we cannot see him. Denial is are not a badge of courage or honor but a symptom of serious organizational problems, without action only get worse. I call them manager's - they manage to (Mess-UP) everything they touch turns to shit...Notice I did not say leaders...Nobody is perfect, but they don't even try to be honest or show respect, concern, or stand up for those that make the tough calls other's won't! In ending remember this from a very good friend, mentor.

Character: Character is what defines you. It’s the light you shine when enter a room, the shadow you cast while you occupy it, and the footprints you leave behind when you exit.

Character is what allows those that may not know you, to trust you and those that have no reason to fear you, to respect you. Your character is what both friends and enemies will remember long after you are gone.

Where appearances may cause first impressions, character causes lasting impressions.

Your character is the suit that is worn on the inside, which in the short term cannot be noticed, and in the long term cannot be forgotten.

-Phil Messina, Sgt, Ret, NYPD
Modern Warrior
©Copyright 2006

carlsonee @ 3/12/2008 4:07 PM

Thank you SGT. Messina for your inspirational words and Irishone for your advice. I know you are both right, you have to look after number one, the department will not, I realized that a long time ago. I have decided to ditch the turd this Saturday when I return to work, I will keep you posted. I really don't care if it causes an upset, I just want to learn the job and this is not possible with this so-called FTO. Once again, thanks for your advice.

Nick V. Pashun @ 3/12/2008 10:48 PM

Most often the cause of the bad law enforcement officer is a direct result of bad leadership. Get rid of the bureaucracy and you get rid of the bad officer. Listen closely to a potential employees words. That's because they often betray their hidden agenda and true self. Most sad, but in many instances this is a direct result of poor character within the agency itself and comes from the top on down command structure. Hire many, hire quickly and you get what you bargin for.......

44sgt @ 3/13/2008 9:52 AM

carlsonee, c'mon bro. you have NO time on the job. We have all had bad partners before. DEAL with it. As long as he has not done anything really illegal learn from the experience and move on. DO NOT keep a log, DO NOT go to IA. Just because he is a POS does not mean he is a criminal, IAB does not understand that. By all means if you see somthing illegal report it. Learn the job before you judge others. You claim to be on less than a year, but sound like you know it all. Change partners if you want but do not be a rat. We are all we have, no one else gives s@!t about us.

carlsonee @ 3/13/2008 12:59 PM

44sgt, thanks for your advice. I have no intention of going to IA and did not say he was a criminal, only a POS who has no regard for the job at all which he points out most of the time. The higher ups are watching him for a reason, I don't need to waste time with this turd if he is not going to teach me anything. Just because I have only been on the job for a short time does not mean I have to either. There is absolutely nothing to gain from this experience, only bad experiences, and the department does not pay me enough for that!

Punisher @ 3/13/2008 8:58 PM

Hard article to read. But too true. unfortunately bad cops make me lose sleep. I can go home and sleep and be with my family knowing there is criminals out there. I can deal with them. Bad cops should scare all of us. They know what we know, are trained like we are trained, and moreover, have the capacity to commit wrongs often without the public knowing about it. If you have knowledge of a crime, you have to do the right thing. Can you, in 30 years, look at your grandchildren and say you always did the right thing knowing you really didn't? "Qui tacet Consertine Videtor Ubi Loqui Debuit Ac Potuit"--latin for He who is silent is taken to agree when he ought to have spoken and was able to.

David Moore S-55 @ 3/16/2008 8:26 PM

carlsonee - One more recommendation from my reading Library- A Book titled - "Ethical Issues in Policing and Corrections." "Reputable Conduct." by John R. Jones, Daniel P; Carlson, (Retired Captain- NYSP) ( Pearson Education http://www.prenhall.com ) If nothing else read page 186 - Chapter 10 Titled: (A matter of Public Trust). Also See http://www.cailaw.org/ilea/ethics.html

Be like a willow tree, bend but don't break..Good Luck and Stay Safe!

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